South Australians have been given a prickly assignment — to collect the poo and take photos of one of Australia’s most distinctive animals for a new study.
Launched on Monday, the EchidnaCSI project by the University of Adelaide will investigate echidna numbers throughout the state to better understand their movements.
‘‘Surprisingly we know very little about these iconic animals that feature on our coins,’’ the university’s Professor Frank Grutzner said.
Once people have taken their pictures they can upload them to a specially- designed phone app that researchers will use to track one of the continent’s oldest surviving mammals.
They’re also asked to bag the droppings and post them to the university to allow researchers to determine what echidnas are eating, the environment they are living in and if they are breeding.
Prof Grutzner said echidnas had adapted to a range of habitats from deserts to alpine snow.
‘‘Although they are hard to find and study in the wild, they pop up in people’s backyards frequently and you see them when least expected,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s why we need as many people as possible to let us know where they are and what they are doing.’’